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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Wakefield Wright’s Interview

Born in Ohio, Wakefield Wright had a degree in biological sciences from the University of Louisville. In 1943, he was assigned to a “super secret project” and sent to Oak Ridge, where he was trained in the separations process to separate plutonium from uranium that had been irradiated in a reactor. In September 1944, he was sent to Hanford, where he supervised “chemical operators” at the T-Plant. He recalls the technical aspect of the separations process, the emphasis on secrecy at Hanford and Oak Ridge, and life in Richland.

Harry Kamack’s Interview

Harry Kamack worked as a chemical engineer for the DuPont Company during the early 1940s, when he was transferred to Chicago to work at the Metallurgical Laboratory. As a chemical engineer, Kamack admits that he did not have much knowledge of nuclear physics, but he quickly learned and was soon tasked with building a Geiger counter. In 1943, Kamack was transferred to Oak Ridge, where he continued work on developing processes for the separation of plutonium at the X-10 Graphite Reactor. In October of 1944, Kamack was transferred again to Hanford, where he continued research on the chemical separations process of the T-Plant.

Roger Hultgren’s Interview

Minnesota native Roger Hultgren worked for the DuPont Company as a chemist during the early 1940s, when he was suddenly transferred to Hanford to work on the Manhattan Project in the spring of 1944. Hultgren discusses the secrecy at Hanford and recalls not being allowed to share information with other scientists even though they were working on the same project. Hultgren also explains the importance of safety and recalls Du Pont’s strong commitment to its employees and their health.

Watson C. Warriner, Sr.’s Interview

Watson C. Warriner, Sr., a trained chemical engineer, worked for DuPont on the Manhattan Project. During the war he worked on building ordnance plants and acid plants, and helped design and build the chemical separation plants at Hanford (also known as the 221 T-plant or “Queen Marys”). He discusses the trains and cask car system used at Hanford and life in the dormitories on the secret site. He recalls going to New York City with his wife to celebrate V-J Day with thousands of other people crowded into the streets.

Steve Buckingham’s Interview

Steve Buckingham, a chemist, worked at the Hanford site beginning in 1947. He explains how the B Reactor worked, and applauds the ingenuity of the designers of the T-plant.